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Google Hangouts Plugin No Longer Needed in Chrome

Google’s plan to wean the web off the archaic NPAPI plugin architecture by the end of 2014 is well underway, and the latest plugin to get a modern makeover is one of its own.

Google+ Hangouts no longer requires a separate plugin to be installed in Chrome for video and voice chat to work. Using the Web Real-Time Communication API (WebRTC) and Native Client (NaCl) Google is able to provide a native video chat experience out of the box in Chrome.

Although NaCl is a Chrome/ium-only technology, the key aspects of the service —  audio and video — are served by WebRTC. Other browsers, such as Firefox, should therefore be able to also service up Hangouts support without a plugin at some point in the near future, too.

hangouts webrtc change

With Google+ Hangouts being one of the most widely used NPAPI plugins Google had to implement a dependable and alternative solution.

Thankfully the end result is an update that, Google says, makes it ‘easier than ever’ to start a video call using Hangouts:

“You’ll now be able to launch Hangouts in Chrome without having to download and install a plugin. Just click to start the Hangout, allow Hangouts to use your camera and microphone, and you’ll be good to go!”

The change is now already in effect for Chrome Dev and Canary users on Windows, Mac and Linux and will find its way to Beta and Stable channel users over the coming weeks.

Curious to see what type of plugins you have running in Chrome? Head to ‘chrome://plugins’ in a new tab to take a nosey. Click the ‘details’ option in the far right hand corner to reveal extra options, including disable/enable toggles, build type (NPAPI or PPAPI) and grant ‘always run’ permission.

  • +2

  • moe

    imagine a flatter looking chrome and chrome os, wondering how that would look check it out. I think it would come in sync with Android L as well.

  • Anthony Tumiwa

    yes finally what i want since a long time ago

  • Boothy

    Now, if they could drop the G+ requirement from Hangouts, and just require a gmail account (like Android), I could get my folks to finally switch over from Skype.
    They don’t do “social networking……”

    • Sebastiaan Franken

      Gmail IS G+. If you have a gmail address you have google+, and you can use all google services.

      • Boothy

        Nope. You can remove your G+ account and still have a gmail account.
        You can then use text hangouts to 1 person, but no voice calls on the web. You can however use video calls on Android without a G+ profile.
        I only know this because I had to remove my folks G+ (which is created for you when you sign in to a service that requires it with an old gmail account).

  • Cristian Otegui

    Google Hangouts es mejor que Skype. De todas maneras, lo que hay que mejorar es el servicio de Internet móvil en los distintos países para que realmente la gente pueda realizar videollamadas de calidad en cualquier parte.

  • Heimen Stoffels

    A bit offtopic, but since the post mention dev: does anyone have any experience with dev for the past couple of months? Is it really much more unstable than beta (I’m currently on beta)? Or is daily use possible (I don’t mind a few crashes a day or little bugs)?

    • I use Dev as my daily driver and I can’t say I ever notice that many screw ups (certainly not compared to Canary). Sometimes there will be an API change/bug that affects an extension. Other than that I wouldn’t say it’s any more crash prone than stable.

      • David Gabel

        Agreed. I run the Dev build as a daily driver as well and I’ve had zero issues. It feels like I’m using the regular stable build.

  • Rudhá Oliveira

    “With Google+ Hangouts being one of the most widely used NPAPI plugins Google had to implement a dependable and alternative solution”.

    I think the hangouts plugin is already PPAPI not NPAPI…

    • The Google Talk (as it’s still called) plugin is listed as NPAPI in the chrome://plugins page. It it was already PPAPI Google would’ve had little need to worry about implementing an alternative as PPAPI plugins are fully supported.

      • Rudhá Oliveira

        Not my case:
        I’m using chromium on archlinux with the plugin from AUR.

        • Curious. But the point still stands: It is distributed as an NPAPI plugin on some OSes and is — according to data from Google themselves — one of the most used NPAPI plugins (accounting for roughly 8% or so)

    • gbcox

      I agree, same here for me… it is already PPAPI.

  • gbcox

    This isn’t supported yet for Google Apps domains, so the article is a bit misleading. So unless you are using a “” google account, it won’t work.

    • That’s a bit unfair. “Misleading” implies we’re intentionally distorting the facts. We’re not. The fact is is as stated: Hangouts will now work in Chrome without a plugin on Dev, and soon on Stable and Beta channel.

      If our headline read: “Hangouts now works with all types of Google accounts in Chrome”, I’d say fair enough. But it doesn’t; we reference Chrome, the browser, not the various types of accounts one can use inside of it.

      • gbcox

        We can parse words all day. The fact remains that unless you are running a “” google account, it isn’t going to work, no matter what version of Chrome you are using.

        The article states:
        “Google+ Hangouts no longer requires a separate plugin to be installed in Chrome for video and voice chat to work.”

        There is no asterisk by that statement. It isn’t true.

        • Fair enough if you want to view it that way, but we’ll have to agree to disagree.

          Afaiac, what we reported was correct (and, indeed, is largely made up of quotes from Google themselves).

          Chrome supports plugin-free Hangouts… the caveat is that, yes, you can’t use Hangouts without using a support account. But that’s true of anything: Chrome supports NaCl, caveat being only in apps written to take advantage of it; Chrome supports WebRTC, providing you’re logged into a site that uses it; Chrome supports Google Now notifications, providing you have the Android or iOS app installed on a mobile device. Fun fact: Twitter supports tweeting, providing you have a Twitter account.

          If you log into a supported account in Chrome you can use Hangouts without a plugin. Therefore, Google Chrome supports hangouts without a plugin.

          • gbcox

            Since I use Hangouts everyday, I would say it is a supported account.

  • Frank

    I also found this article misleading, I have since tried Dev and Canary on Windows and neither work, still asking for the Hangouts plugin. There’s been no note on the Chromium blog of these releases either. Incredibly bad journalism and bad information all around.

  • Kattie

    Hi, I am having a problem, my Hangouts require google chrome to sign in with my gmail account, but if I use firefox to sign in with anothe gmail account, the hangouts sign me out from my 1st gamil account! Why is this happening, can someone please tell me how to stop it? Thanks in advance!

  • fookoffdisqus

    Doesn’t work for me, Chrome doesn’t even see the cam. Cheese does.